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Intervention Summary

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Media Detective

Media Detective is a media literacy education program for 3rd- to 5th-grade students. The goal of the program is to prevent or delay the onset of underage alcohol and tobacco use by enhancing the critical thinking skills of students so they become adept in deconstructing media messages, particularly those related to alcohol and tobacco products, and by encouraging healthy beliefs and attitudes about abstaining from alcohol and tobacco use. The program consists of 10 45-minute lessons based on established models of decisionmaking and research on the message interpretation process. Students are taught to deconstruct product advertisements by looking for five "clues": (1) the product, (2) the target audience, (3) the ad hook, (4) the hidden message, and (5) missing information about the health-related consequences of using the product. The program uses a range of pedagogical techniques and can be adapted to a variety of classroom settings and skill levels of students. The Media Detective program kit contains the main materials needed to teach the program, including a teacher manual, poster flipchart, and CD with media examples. Individual student workbooks that accompany the activities taught in each lesson are sold separately. Also available is a comprehensive online training workshop, which provides an introduction to the theory and research underlying the program model and instructions for facilitating each program activity. Those who finish this training and successfully complete assessment tests receive certification as program teachers. Media Detective is related to Media Ready, a media literacy education program for 6th- to 8th-grade students. Media Ready has been reviewed separately by NREPP.

Descriptive Information

Areas of Interest Substance abuse prevention
Outcomes Review Date: June 2010
1: Media deconstruction skills for alcohol
2: Understanding of persuasive intent of advertising
3: Interest in alcohol-branded merchandise
4: Intentions to use alcohol and tobacco
5: Self-efficacy related to drinking and smoking behaviors
Outcome Categories Alcohol
Social functioning
Tobacco
Ages 6-12 (Childhood)
Genders Male
Female
Races/Ethnicities Data were not reported/available.
Settings School
Geographic Locations Suburban
Rural and/or frontier
Implementation History Since its development in 2006, Media Detective has been implemented in an estimated 80 classrooms with approximately 1,900 elementary school-aged students in the United States (mostly in North Carolina). Media Detective has been used in both public and private schools. One evaluation study of the program has been conducted.
NIH Funding/CER Studies Partially/fully funded by National Institutes of Health: Yes
Evaluated in comparative effectiveness research studies: No
Adaptations Implementation materials are available in Spanish.
Adverse Effects No adverse effects, concerns, or unintended consequences were identified by the developer.
IOM Prevention Categories Universal

Quality of Research
Review Date: June 2010

Documents Reviewed

The documents below were reviewed for Quality of Research. The research point of contact can provide information regarding the studies reviewed and the availability of additional materials, including those from more recent studies that may have been conducted.

Study 1

Kupersmidt, J. B., Scull, T. M., & Austin, E. W. (2010). Media literacy education for elementary school substance use prevention: Study of Media Detective. Pediatrics, 126(3), 525-531.  Pub Med icon

Supplementary Materials

Kupersmidt, J. B., & Barrett, T. M. (2010). Media Detective. Durham, NC: innovation Research and Training.

Outcomes

Outcome 1: Media deconstruction skills for alcohol
Description of Measures Project staff administered a paper-and-pencil questionnaire to students at pre- and posttest. Each question was read aloud to students to account for differences in reading levels. The questionnaire included 6 open-ended items to measure each student's ability to deconstruct an alcohol advertisement:

  • "What is being sold in this ad?"
  • "What type of person do you think would like this ad (male or female, kid or adult)?"
  • "What is the purpose of this ad?"
  • "What did the people who made this ad do to make people stop and look at this ad?"
  • "What do they want you to think about this product? Finish this sentence: If I get this product, then…"
  • "Is there anything this ad is not telling you about the product that you would need to know before buying or using it?"
The resulting qualitative data were coded by three trained coders, producing scores in seven categories:

  • The product score, which ranged from 0 to 3, captured a student's ability to recognize the product being advertised.
  • The target audience score, which ranged from 0 to 3, assessed a student's ability to recognize the target audience of a particular advertisement.
  • The purpose score, which ranged from 0 to 2, assessed a student's understanding that the purpose of the advertisement is to sell products.
  • The ad hook score, which was 0 or 1, assessed a student's understanding of how advertisements attract attention.
  • The hidden message score, which ranged from 0 to 2, assessed a student's ability to recognize implied messages in advertisements.
  • The missing information score, which ranged from 0 to 2, assessed a student's ability to recognize information purposefully omitted from an advertisement.
  • The visual elements score, which ranged from 0 to 2, assessed a student's understanding of how advertisers use graphic elements (e.g., font, color, placement of items such as warning labels) to capture attention or to make the product seem more appealing.
The seven scores were summed to create the media deconstruction skills score, which had a possible range of 0-15, with higher scores indicating greater ability to deconstruct the advertisement. Each student's score was calculated as the average of the three coders' scores for that individual. Pretest scores for the outcome variable were included as covariate prediction variables; therefore, outcome variable means were reported as adjusted posttest scores.
Key Findings At posttest, students in the intervention group had higher mean scores for media deconstruction skills compared with students in the wait-list control group (6.31 vs. 4.59; p < .0001).
Studies Measuring Outcome Study 1
Study Designs Experimental
Quality of Research Rating 2.4 (0.0-4.0 scale)
Outcome 2: Understanding of persuasive intent of advertising
Description of Measures Project staff administered a paper-and-pencil questionnaire to students at pre- and posttest. Each question was read aloud to students to account for differences in reading levels. Three items measured students' understanding of the persuasive intent of advertising by asking "how often is this true" for the following statements:

  • "Advertisers want you to buy the product even if it isn't good for you to have."
  • "Advertisers care more about making money than about what is good for you."
  • "Advertising doesn't change the way I think."
Students responded using a 6-point Likert scale that ranged from 0 (never) to 5 (always), with higher scores indicating a stronger understanding of the persuasive intent of advertising. Pretest scores for the outcome variable were included as covariate prediction variables; therefore, outcome variable means were reported as adjusted posttest scores.
Key Findings At posttest, students in the intervention group had higher mean scores for understanding of the persuasive intent of advertising compared with students in the wait-list control group (3.93 vs. 3.58; p < .05).
Studies Measuring Outcome Study 1
Study Designs Experimental
Quality of Research Rating 2.5 (0.0-4.0 scale)
Outcome 3: Interest in alcohol-branded merchandise
Description of Measures Project staff administered a paper-and-pencil questionnaire to students at pre- and posttest. Each question was read aloud to students to account for differences in reading levels. Six items measured each student's interest in alcohol-branded merchandise. Two pictures, one alcohol themed and one soda themed, were presented for each of the 6 items. Each picture was labeled A or B, and students were asked to indicate which one they preferred. Students responded using a 5-point scale that ranged from 1 (I like B a lot more) to 5 (I like A a lot more), with higher scores indicating greater interest in alcohol-branded merchandise. Each student's score for interest in alcohol-branded merchandise was derived from the average of responses across the 6 items. Pretest scores for the outcome variable were included as covariate prediction variables; therefore, outcome variable means were reported as adjusted posttest scores.
Key Findings At posttest, boys in the intervention group had lower mean scores for interest in alcohol-branded merchandise compared with boys in the wait-list control group (1.56 vs. 1.76; p < .05). The scores for girls did not differ significantly between groups.
Studies Measuring Outcome Study 1
Study Designs Experimental
Quality of Research Rating 2.6 (0.0-4.0 scale)
Outcome 4: Intentions to use alcohol and tobacco
Description of Measures Project staff administered a paper-and-pencil questionnaire to students at pre- and posttest. Each question was read aloud to students to account for differences in reading levels. Eight items assessed each student's intention to use alcohol and tobacco:

  • "Before you are 21 years old, do you think you will drink beer, wine, or hard liquor (more than just a few sips)?"
  • "Before you are 21, do you think you will get drunk or drink a lot of alcohol at one time?"
  • "Before you are 18 years old, do you think you will smoke cigarettes?"
  • "Before you are 18 years old, do you think you will chew tobacco or use snuff?"
  • "During the next year, do you think you will drink beer, wine, or hard liquor (more than just a few sips)?"
  • "During the next year, do you think you will get drunk or drink a lot of alcohol at one time?"
  • "During the next year, do you think you will smoke cigarettes?"
  • "During the next year, do you think you will chew tobacco or use snuff?"
Students responded using a 4-point Likert scale that ranged from 0 (I definitely will not) to 3 (I definitely will). Scores for intentions to use alcohol and tobacco were derived from the average of responses across the 8 items, with higher scores indicating a stronger intention to use alcohol and tobacco. Pretest scores for the outcome variable were included as covariate prediction variables; therefore, outcome variable means were reported as adjusted posttest scores.
Key Findings At posttest, among students who had previously used alcohol and tobacco, those in the intervention group had lower mean scores for intentions to use alcohol and tobacco compared with those in the wait-list control group (0.30 vs. 0.41; p < .05). The scores for students who had not previously used alcohol or tobacco did not differ significantly between groups.
Studies Measuring Outcome Study 1
Study Designs Experimental
Quality of Research Rating 2.5 (0.0-4.0 scale)
Outcome 5: Self-efficacy related to drinking and smoking behaviors
Description of Measures Project staff administered a paper-and-pencil questionnaire to students at pre- and posttest. Each question was read aloud to students to account for differences in reading levels. Four items assessed each student's self-efficacy and feelings of personal control in regard to drinking and smoking behaviors by asking "how often is this true" for the following statements:

  • "I feel like I have to drink beer or other alcoholic drinks."
  • "I feel like I have to smoke cigarettes."
  • "I would feel like I had to drink beer or other alcoholic drinks if my friends were drinking."
  • "I would feel like I had to smoke cigarettes if my friends were smoking."
Students responded using a 6-point Likert scale that ranged from 0 (never) to 5 (always). Scores were then reverse coded so that higher scores indicated higher levels of self-efficacy. Scores for self-efficacy in regard to the use of alcohol and tobacco were derived from the average of responses across the 4 items. Pretest scores for the outcome variable were included as covariate prediction variables; therefore, outcome variable means were reported as adjusted posttest scores.
Key Findings At posttest, students in the intervention group had higher mean scores for self-efficacy compared with students in the wait-list control group (4.79 vs. 4.69; p < .05). Among students who previously used alcohol or tobacco, those in the intervention group had higher mean scores for self-efficacy compared with those in the wait-list control group (4.73 vs. 4.50; p < .05). The scores for students who had not previously used alcohol or tobacco did not differ significantly between groups.
Studies Measuring Outcome Study 1
Study Designs Experimental
Quality of Research Rating 2.7 (0.0-4.0 scale)

Study Populations

The following populations were identified in the studies reviewed for Quality of Research.

Study Age Gender Race/Ethnicity
Study 1 6-12 (Childhood) 50.7% Female
49.3% Male
Data not reported/available

Quality of Research Ratings by Criteria (0.0-4.0 scale)

External reviewers independently evaluate the Quality of Research for an intervention's reported results using six criteria:

  1. Reliability of measures
  2. Validity of measures
  3. Intervention fidelity
  4. Missing data and attrition
  5. Potential confounding variables
  6. Appropriateness of analysis

For more information about these criteria and the meaning of the ratings, see Quality of Research.

Outcome Reliability
of Measures
Validity
of Measures
Fidelity Missing
Data/Attrition
Confounding
Variables
Data
Analysis
Overall
Rating
1: Media deconstruction skills for alcohol 1.5 2.5 2.8 2.8 2.4 2.5 2.4
2: Understanding of persuasive intent of advertising 2.3 2.3 2.8 2.8 2.4 2.5 2.5
3: Interest in alcohol-branded merchandise 2.3 2.8 2.8 2.8 2.4 2.5 2.6
4: Intentions to use alcohol and tobacco 2.3 2.3 2.8 2.8 2.4 2.5 2.5
5: Self-efficacy related to drinking and smoking behaviors 2.8 3.3 2.8 2.8 2.4 2.5 2.7

Study Strengths

The internal consistency and face validity of the scales were acceptable, and there was some evidence of concurrent validity. Teachers completed a fidelity checklist after each lesson, and program staff provided fidelity ratings for the lessons they observed, which indicated a relatively high level of fidelity. Attrition and missing data were minimal. The analytic strategy of using a hierarchical linear model was appropriate.

Study Weaknesses

Test-retest and interrater reliabilities were not provided, and no evidence of construct or predictive validity was given. Only 20% of the lessons were observed, and no information was provided about teachers' self-reported ratings for the unobserved lessons. It is unclear whether there was differential attrition across treatment groups or across classrooms. The analysis did not account for nesting at the school level.

Readiness for Dissemination
Review Date: June 2010

Materials Reviewed

The materials below were reviewed for Readiness for Dissemination. The implementation point of contact can provide information regarding implementation of the intervention and the availability of additional, updated, or new materials.

innovation Research and Training. (2006). Media Detective notebook: Grade 3. Durham, NC: Author.

innovation Research and Training. (2006). Media Detective notebook: Grades 4 and 5. Durham, NC: Author.

innovation Research and Training. (2006). Media Detective poster flipchart. Durham, NC: Author.

innovation Research and Training. (2006). Media Detective teacher manual: An evidence-based media literacy substance abuse prevention program, elementary school, grades 3-5. Durham, NC: Author.

Media Detective Web site, http://www.irtinc.us/products/mediadetective/index.html

Web-based teacher training program, http://irtprevention.com/about_mdtt.htm

Readiness for Dissemination Ratings by Criteria (0.0-4.0 scale)

External reviewers independently evaluate the intervention's Readiness for Dissemination using three criteria:

  1. Availability of implementation materials
  2. Availability of training and support resources
  3. Availability of quality assurance procedures

For more information about these criteria and the meaning of the ratings, see Readiness for Dissemination.

Implementation
Materials
Training and Support
Resources
Quality Assurance
Procedures
Overall
Rating
3.5 3.5 3.4 3.5

Dissemination Strengths

The teacher manual is well organized and follows a clear, logical sequence. The manual's pages include a sidebar that lists the lesson components and highlights where the user is within the lesson. Implementation materials include optional homework assignments to enhance students' learning. The Web-based training is well aligned with the content of the teacher manual and includes session-by-session assessments of what has been learned. At the end of the training, participants who successfully complete the assessment tests are certified as program teachers. A fidelity checklist with a rating scale helps teachers assess how well they followed the fidelity instructions, which are provided for each session.

Dissemination Weaknesses

Little guidance is provided on optimal class size and methods for incorporating the program into existing classroom curricula. It is unclear how implementers access support, if needed, for the Web-based training. Little information is provided on how an implementer should administer the fidelity checklist and interpret its results.

Costs

The cost information below was provided by the developer. Although this cost information may have been updated by the developer since the time of review, it may not reflect the current costs or availability of items (including newly developed or discontinued items). The implementation point of contact can provide current information and discuss implementation requirements.

Item Description Cost Required by Developer
Curriculum kit (includes teacher manual, 5 posters, CD with multimedia presentation, 30 student detective notebooks, and 30 bookmarks) $400 each Yes
Additional student detective notebooks (pack of 10) $55 per pack No
1-year license for on-demand, Web-based teacher training (includes teacher certification test) $100 per participant No
1-day, on-site teacher training workshop $2,800 for up to 20 participants, plus travel expenses No
Teacher certification test $25 each No
Limited phone and email consultation Free No
Pre- and posttest outcome assessment instruments Free No
Fidelity checklists Free No
Implementation design and monitoring consultation $175 per hour No
Evaluation services consultation $175 per hour No
Contractual evaluation services Varies depending on the number of participants, types of services, and number of evaluation reports needed No

Additional Information

The curriculum kit and additional student detective notebooks are available in English or Spanish.

Replications

No replications were identified by the developer.

Contact Information

To learn more about implementation, contact:
Tracy Scull, Ph.D.
(919) 493-7700
tscull@irtinc.us

To learn more about research, contact:
Janis Kupersmidt, Ph.D.
(919) 493-7700
jkupersmidt@irtinc.us

Consider these Questions to Ask (PDF, 54KB) as you explore the possible use of this intervention.

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